This is a compilation of multiple instances that the police officers, the police chief, and the entirety of the Richmond Police Department have issued official statements that have been contradicted by multiple eyewitnesses, video evidence, and even the Richmond Fire Department, since May 31, 2020. This list is by no means comprehensive, but exists as a glaring example of how an armed department of law, order, and safety erodes community trust through false statements and misrepresentation of incidents that have occurred.
When citizens were tear gassed before curfew
On June 1, a curfew of 8:00pm was mandated by Mayor Levar Stoney. Richmond citizens who were gathered at the Lee statue were tear gassed by police nearly a half hour before curfew. In the video below, citizens can be heard yelling, “This is a peaceful protest!” and, “It’s 7:30!”
Following the incident, Richmond police took to Twitter to apologize to protesters and explain that, “Some RPD officers in that area were cut off by violent protestors.”
Video evidence, like the one above, directly contradicted the claim that tear gas was warranted due to violent protesters. Less than two hours later, RPD tweeted again, stating former police chief Smith, “apologizes for this unwarranted action.”
When former police chief Smith said protesters impeded the fire dept
Former chief of police, William Smith, claimed protesters were blocking a fire truck from a burning building on Broad St where a family was stuck inside. In a video of him addressing Richmond citizens, chief Smith appears to get teary eyed as he describes the incident that never occurred. According to Lt. Chris Armstrong of the Richmond fire department, there was an external fire near a building on N. Monroe St, which contradicts Smith’s claim that a building on a different street was on fire. The fire department also stated that when they arrived, one protester was in their path, and that the aforementioned family was safe outside. These two narratives, one from the police department, one from the fire department, are in conflict with each other at nearly every point in the story.
When Smith said a police officer shoving a journalist to the ground was “unintentional”
A RPD officer pepper sprayed a journalist after the journalist identified himself. Roberto Roldan works with Virginia’s Home for Public Media, a media company that has been covering protests in the area. In a series of tweets, Roldan shares that he produced his badge for officers to clearly see before he was pepper sprayed and pushed to the ground. At the very same press conference as the video above, former chief of police, William Smith, claimed, “that was an unintentional act.” Smith goes on to explain that the officer who assaulted Roldan did it accidentally.
Mayor Stoney recently held a conference wherein he stated that he asked for Smith’s resignation. As of now, the interim chief of police for Richmond is William Blackwell. In a recent address to Richmond citizens, Blackwell refused to entertain a question about a 2002 shooting during which Blackwell shot a man in the back who didn’t match the description of the suspect he was looking for.
When police informed citizens an arrested protester would only be processed if citizens left
Police grabbed and arrested Michaela Hatton out of a group of citizens on June 14th. According to multiple eyewitnesses, Sgt. Bridges of Richmond police shared with remaining protesters that Hatton would not be processed and released until protesters left. Many protesters acknowledged that this was a violation of Hatton’s right to due process.
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